Relationship Pitfalls to be Aware Of

I think it’s safe to say, everyone loves love, whether you’re all about commitment or prefer to fly solo. The initial stages of a relationship can have you feeling like you’re on cloud 9 - the excitement, the butterflies, the attention, you know the feeling! However, once the “honeymoon" phase” has worn off and some time has passed, reality kicks in and certain relationship pitfalls can land you in hot water if you don’t know how to navigate them.

Making a relationship last for the long haul can be incredibly difficult! People naturally evolve and change and, unfortunately, sometimes, they aren’t able to do it together. That said, relationships are a choice and, while severing ties can be healthy in many instances, if you’re both in it to win it, playing for keeps can still be done.

Here are some relationship landmines to steer clear of on the path to forever.

Living in Absolute Certainty

Certainty is the end of a good relationship in most cases. Certainty leads to taking people for granted and that leads to increased friction and, ultimately, a break may occur.

Acknowledging and accepting change is important (even if it leads to the end of a relationship). It will help you appreciate your significant other more and see them as someone to continue to fight for.

Pointing Fingers

The secret to a healthy and long-lasting love is actually somewhat simple, but it requires each party to being fully accountable for their role. When it comes to conflict, couples often focus on how their significant other has wronged or hurt them. The sooner people learn that the only thing they can change is themselves, the better off they’ll be.

Without work from both sides it is almost impossible to fix a relationship. Getting couples to see the problem as something they both created, and not just making it about the other person, is one of the first aspects of relationship I attempt to change.

Ignoring Love Languages

Knowing the little things that your partner responds to - touch, words of affirmation, quality time, thoughtful acts, etc. — is pretty crucial in keeping things healthy and happy over time.

 The language you most respond to is also the vehicle in which you express your love. If you don’t know what the other person responds to, you give what you want. In doing so, however, you slowly lose understanding of your partner, which can lead to a disconnect.

Attacking Each Other Instead of the Problem

If you continuously attack each other, you’re slowly stripping your partner of their dignity. Put your issues on the table and keep your focus on that. If you just throw a bandage on top of a dirty wound, it’s not going to heal correctly or fully. It’s when you pour the antiseptic solution on the wound that it’s purified and can heal well.

For instance, lack of communication is a popular pitfall in long-term relationships. It’s not about ‘We don’t know how to communicate’; What they should be asking is, ‘What did we lose in the communication process?’ and ‘When did I stop feeling safe?’ It gets deeper and what is actually lost is safety.

At the end of the day, relationships — no matter how healthy or peaceful — are work. You have to be game to put your all in if you’re running toward the finish line.

Relationships are not 50/50, they should be 100 percent. Always bring 100 percent of yourself.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Why You Need To Know Your Partner's Love Language

Knowing a partner’s love language just might save a relationship. The idea behind this psychology is that every individual has a different way that they give and receive love. Dr. Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, argues that these ways can be divided up into 5 simple categories:

  1. Acts of Service

    If your #1 Love Language is “Acts of Service,” you feel most loved and appreciated when your partner thinks about what they can do to ease the responsibilities that are weighing on you. Hearing “let me help you with that” or “I already took care of it” is most exciting to you. Laziness, failure to perform their share of chores, or being unthoughtful with how they can help you are all easy ways for you to feel unappreciated and unloved.

  2. Word of Affirmation

    If your #1 Love Language is “Words of Affirmation,” actions do not speak louder than words. Unsolicited compliments make you feel secure and happy in your relationship. Hearing “I love you” on a regular basis is important to you, and helps you to believe you are loved. Hearing the reasons behind why they love you is icing on the happy-relationship cake. Insults are not easily forgotten and not hearing enough words of affirmation will make you feel unloved.

  3. Quality Time

    Having your partner’s undivided attention is the time when you feel most appreciated. Distractions during quality time or postponing dates can make you feel like you aren’t important to your partner. Scheduling the time to be together is crucial to the success of your relationship.

  4. Receiving Gifts

    If this is your #1 language, don’t question your character. It actually has more to do with the thought behind the gift than the gift itself. You appreciate the thoughtfulness behind gift giving (whether it’s a grand birthday present or bringing home your favorite magazine from a trip to the drugstore). All gifts, whether small and daily or big and grand, remind you how much you matter to your partner and how much thoughtfulness and effort they think you’re worth. Missed birthdays or thoughtless gifts are your relationship nightmare because it makes you feel like your partner doesn’t care about you.

  5. Physical Touch

    This isn’t just about intimacy — holding hands, hugging, or pats on the back make you feel loved and cared for. Physical closeness is directly related to emotional closeness for you, and neglect can be destructive to the relationship. A hug can lift your mood or take away your insecurities.

So why is knowing your partner’s love language so crucial to the success of your relationship?

It will help you and your partner feel more appreciated.

If you’re an “Acts of Service” person dating a “Words of Affirmation” person, your partner might shower you with compliments and “I love you”s every day, but you would spend the relationship not feeling truly appreciated because they never offer to run errands or do the dishes. Understanding your partner’s love language will help you discern how they show their love, so that you do feel loved and appreciated, knowing the way in which they give their love is different than yours.

It will allow you to communicate your needs more.

Understanding that they do other things out of love, and that they just have a different love language, will help you to communicate, “it makes me feel appreciated when you clean the kitchen,” or “I feel loved when you hold my hand.”

It will show you and your partner what you both should do without being asked.

Knowing your partner is a “Physical Touch” person will make you more thoughtful about holding their hand in public or hugging them when they’re down, and you will be able to understand the meaning and importance behind these little acts that, for you, would otherwise be insignificant. Your partner will be more conscious about what they can do to show you how much they appreciate and love you. When you and your partner both know how the other gives appreciation and wants to receive appreciation, it makes for more thoughtful decisions and efforts that make you and your partner both feel loved and valued.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Unpacking Emotional Baggage

When dealing with emotional baggage, you are constantly struggling under the weight of baggage, bad filters, and triggers. In any situation, nothing that is said is evaluated objectively. Everything is going through a filter that distorts the original message. It stops being about the content of the message, and instead becomes about our perceptions of the sender, and more importantly, about us. We have let ourselves get to the point where we're not really hearing anymore, we're just judging. If you've reached this point with someone, it's time to unpack your baggage.

Here are a few things that contribute to the problem and understanding them is important tp changing the situation:

  • Your brain processes most information using primitive filters looking only for the most basic information about threats that should be attended to.

  • Attention errors make it likely that you'll pay more attention and give weight to information that confirms your original point of view.

  • You don’t get to hear the intent of people’s messages; you only to get hear how their words come out and to feel how the message impacts you. The disconnect between intent and impact is at the heart of many strained relationships.

Start with a Positive Assumption

The next time you react to something someone else says, turn the situation on its head. Start with a positive assumption, rather than a negative one. Instead of assuming that a person is attacking you, start by assuming they are adding value.

  • Instead of having your normal reaction to what is said, really think about it. Repeat what they said in your head before responding. Think about the words, without reading between the lines or thinking about the back story. Hear the words coming out of someone else’s mouth—how do you interpret them now?

  • Pay attention to the positive, rather than the negative components of the message. Did the person start with a compliment and then share some constructive feedback? Focus on the compliment for a moment. Let it soak in.

  • Think about the possible positive intentions they might have had. How might the person have been trying to help? What were they trying to get at? What value are their comments adding?

If you start with a negative assumption, you waste all the value that others could be providing.  A positive assumption is the only thing that gives you a chance.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in understanding your emotional baggage and unpacking them, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!

Attachment Styles & The Effects on our Relationships

Many psychotherapists (including myself) believe that our adult personalities are unconsciously planted in our childhood experiences. And the way we relate to others, too, seems to be established in our very first relationships—typically with our parents. From the way our caregivers meet our emotional needs in early life, we develop social coping habits that collect into something called an “attachment style”—a pattern in the way we relate to others. A healthy attachment style might serve us well, fostering solid self-esteem and positive relationships, but an unstable one might hold us back from forming functional relationships.

Attachment theory isn’t talked about as often today. However, we all have something to learn from knowing our attachment style: The first step is knowing if you have an insecure attachment style, and, if so, what kind. The second—and this is the tough part—is changing it. Stepping into the unconscious mind isn’t intuitive or easy, but it’s not impossible—and it can reform the way you approach relationships going forward.

Here are a few examples:

You may have been single for some time and wonder why. Or you may be a serial dater who enters relationships falling hard in the first few months—only to cool down and lose interest. You may yearn for love but find yourself staying home binge-watching Game of Thrones. You may have found the perfect partner but get so in your head that it’s impossible to enjoy dinner with them. Perhaps you have been in a long-term relationship but feel unfulfilled, and no matter what they do, you can’t seem to trust your partner. If any of these scenarios apply to you, you may be mimicking feelings that were established when you were in diapers.

Do any of those sound familiar? Many of the fears, beliefs, and behavioral patterns you present as an adult are derived from how you felt in the first few years of life. Our thoughts and actions are shaped by the way you were attached to your primary caregivers.

Attachment theory is useful and relevant especially in identifying insecurities and detachments that affect our general well-being. There are three main types: anxious, avoidant, and secure. Of course, there’s a lot of individual variability, but most people tend to identify with one of these types.

Anxious

Anxiously attached people require a lot of attention. They never seem to be satisfied with the amount they are receiving and consistently want more, a need driven by the devastating fear that they are not good enough. They often compare themselves with others and strive for perfection.

It is almost impossible for an anxiously attached person to fully trust anyone, and so they make a mess of romance and friendships. They are often suspicious, scared of being betrayed, and predisposed to meddling in the affairs of others. If you don’t text them back within an hour or two, they tend to take it personally; they believe that something is wrong, feel annoyed, or worry they have offended you in some way.

People that are anxiously attached are waiting for the other shoe to drop. They may constantly be on the verge of breaking up with their partner or friends, but they don’t go through with it because they don’t want to be left alone. Does it remind you of anyone?

Avoidant

These people often seem indifferent and unaffected by even the most turbulent of relationships. They keep their emotions closed off and don’t engage too deeply in love.

It feels unsafe for avoidants to show who they are; they’re often dealing with self-doubt and uncertainty. They busy themselves with a wide array of useless tasks in order to place distance between themselves and others. They are often workaholics who have little time to socialize with friends, and they even have a tendency to neglect their spouses and children. Avoidants are masters of self-soothing, which often leads to reliance on unhealthy obsessive patterns around substances, exercise, and food.

People who are avoidant may yearn for a loving connection but find themselves running from scenarios where they are asked to commit—in the face of real intimacy, they become uncomfortable and tend to slip away when things get serious.

Avoidants are encased by an unconscious fear that they will be abandoned and rejected and therefore they do not allow themselves to get too close. Unfortunately, this can lead to loneliness, a sense of disconnection, and pessimism.

Secure

Those who are securely attached find the joy in friendships and intimate partners and are not afraid to let it all hang out. They have a balanced and healthy ego—for the most part—and believe in themselves and the vitality of companionship. They seek partners who are also healthy and have a low, well-balanced center of gravity, which allows them to take risks without the fear of failure.

When a securely attached person is paired with an anxious or avoidantly attached person, he/she can tell right away that something is amiss. This does not mean that relationships do not exist between these groups, but if they do, they are often short-lived and unfulfilled. Securely attached people sometimes have a blind spot that prevents them from understanding what people with insecure attachments are coping with. They are the fortunate ones who had parents who showed the correct amount of love for them. This is the primary difference: Avoidants and anxious types did not receive what they needed to feel fully safe.

What next?

We can’t go back and change the details of the first years of life, but there are a few things that can be done to heal these wounds. I encourage you to seek out the help of a therapist. Therapy can be immensely helpful in healing old wounds, shifting your perception of yourself and the people around you, and allowing you to feel safe.

If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in therapy, I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together! Or book your appointment now!


Common Reasons for seeking out Therapy

Many people don’t seek out therapy until things have become so unmanageable that they can longer function properly. Life can be crazy and during this time, we have somehow stopped listening to our bodies, minds, and spirits and have come to a place where our lifestyle is no longer sustainable. This is a vicious cycle that we must become aware of and break. If you relate to any of these common reasons, maybe it’s time to find a good therapist and give yourself some TLC. Here are some very common reasons we need to become aware of:

  • depression and anxiety

  • adjusting to changes in life

  • relationship difficulties

  • addiction

  • mood changes

  • changes in eating and/or sleeping habits

  • grief

  • personal growth and deeper awareness

If any of these issues resonate with you, you are not alone and it’s totally normal to be experiencing any number of those listed curveballs at any given time! I encourage you to pause and check in with yourself and your needs. Therapy can be the link to help you reconnect with your needs and develop the tools to help you cope with the curveballs in life. If you live in the Los Angeles/Westlake Village area and are interested in individual or couples therapy I invite you to contact me via email at: tanyasamuelianmft@yahoo.com . I happily provide a complimentary consultation. Contact me now to see if we might be a good fit to work together!